I love caramel. I’ll choose a good caramel over any other sweet. I swoon for burnt caramel chocolates, drool for salted sauces, and dive head-first into sticky sweet ice creams. The mother of a long-ago boyfriend would make pine nut caramels for Christmas and teen-aged me thought they were the height of sophistication.
Though the boyfriend is long gone–the memory of those Christmas caramels lingered well into my adult life. Finally last year I got up the gumption to make some of my own. Yes, they were very good but not worth years of dreaming. This year, I wanted to craft a caramel that I could hand down to my daughters–and maybe one day my Christmas caramels will become the stuff of dreams.
This is a very soft, slightly salted, herbal caramel. I’ve been wrapping 1″ squares in waxed paper sheets. I think I might try elongated rectangles…but the square is just right for two bites. Don’t be afraid to cook the sugar fairly dark. I took it to a nice amber before adding the cream. Under cooking at the first step will result in a grainy caramel without deep, rich flavors.
Rosemary-Pine Nut Caramels
Makes about 80 1″ caramel squares
- 2 cup heavy cream
- 4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 5 ounces salted butter, cut into pieces
- 3 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 5 ounces lightly toasted pine nuts
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast pine nuts on a baking sheet until just fragrant and beginning to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Line bottom and sides of an 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, then coat parchment with cooking spray or lightly oil.
Bring cream and butter to boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat. Add rosemary sprigs and set aside to let steep.
Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light amber colored caramel.
Carefully pour cream mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the caramel (mixture will bubble up). Discard rosemary sprigs. Simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on candy thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in toasted pine nuts. Pour into baking pan and cool 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of wax paper, twisting 2 ends to close.